We posted an article when the news came out this afternoon that Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith had reportedly told RB Chester Taylor that he was not in the team's future plans. It was assumed that because of the play of Marion Barber, who has been outstanding this preseason, the Bears would be cutting ties with Taylor and his hefty contract.
The Bears brought him in as a free agent last year and front-loaded his deal, paying him nearly $7 million in his first year. Yet the team couldn't figure out how to use him and ended up slotting him as the goal-line runner. For a player who throughout his career had been known more as a third-down back, it was obvious Taylor was miscast. As a result, he averaged 2.4 yards per carry on the year, the lowest of any NFL back that has been given more than 100 carries in a season since the merger.
Barber was brought in this offseason to compete for the backup position behind starter Matt Forte. His bruising running style caught the eye of coaches early. He's also shown well as a blocker and pass catcher.
RB Chester Taylor
In Saturday's preseason game against the Titans, Barber was the first back to see the field once Forte finished his night. Then Kahlil Bell got some touches, followed by Robert Hughes. Taylor stood on the sideline the whole night.
Apparently, running backs coach Tim Spencer told him before the game that he would not be participating that evening. Yet the reasoning was unclear. Taylor came into Halas Hall early today to speak one-on-one with Smith about why he never saw the field on Saturday. Smith told him he wasn't in the game plan.
"I told him he wasn't part of the plans," Smith said after today's practice. "I talked on what happened the last game in a private conversation with Chester, no more than that."
Yet Taylor left the conversation believing his time in Chicago was up.
"I guess there was a misunderstanding on exactly what we talked about," Smith said.
Taylor subsequently left Halas Hall. Shortly after, he received a phone call from director of player personnel Tim Ruskell, telling him he had not been cut. Taylor then returned to Halas Hall later in the afternoon and met with the front office, yet did not practice.
When asked if Taylor had been told he would be released, Smith said, "No, no. He was not. Chester Taylor is still a part of the team. Evidently he took [our conversation] the wrong way. Hopefully we get him out here tomorrow"
The Bears are also in contract-extension talks with the agent of another running back, Matt Forte. Forte thought about holding out this preseason, yet showed up for camp on time because GM Jerry Angelo told him a deal would get down. It's been more than a month since then and he still hasn't been extended, even though the fourth-year player has had the best camp of his career.
One has to wonder why the lines of communications between the Bears' front office, the coaches and running backs are seemingly clogged like the Eisenhower Expressway on a Friday afternoon?
Because of this egregious lack of communication, the Bears have revealed their hand. It's very likely the team was going to attempt to trade Taylor before final cuts on Saturday. His value, as if it weren't low enough already, has now plummeted with other teams aware of this front-office bungle.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.